Book List, Indie Next

Holiday Gift Giving: Mystery & Romance

It’s time for our annual holiday gift giving recommendations! Check out all of the picks on display in the front corner of the store across from the wine bar!

Mystery

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

A Christie-eqsue classic set-up – friends (or enemies?) at a remote hunting lodge in the Scottish Highlands. But this decade-long tradition of a big New Year celebration is quickly ruined when one of the college friends ends up dead. This is a classic whodunnit, and those who have fun predicting what will happen should pick this one up!

Rachele

From the author of the Reese Witherspoon book club pick The Guest List

Everyone’s invited…everyone’s a suspect…

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.

The trip begins innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps, just as a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.

Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead. . . and another of them did it.

Keep your friends close, the old adage says. But how close is too close?

DON’T BE LEFT OUT. JOIN THE PARTY NOW.

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

Immediately enthralling, I couldn’t put down this compelling story! I have always had a soft spot for secret society stories but The Maidens is much more than that. I found myself caring so deeply for Mariana and hoping that her quest would help her find some closure for herself.

Sarah

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Silent Patient comes a spellbinding tale of psychological suspense, weaving together Greek mythology, murder, and obsession, that further cements “Michaelides as a major player in the field” (Publishers Weekly).

Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike—particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.

Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana’s niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.

Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?

When another body is found, Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything—including her own life.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

In this atmospheric thriller set on a luxury work cruise, Lo Blacklock is living the week in luxury with her co-workers, until one night when a storm blows in and she hears noises in the cabin next to her, followed by a splash. She’s determined she saw a woman being thrown overboard, but oddly enough, no one on the list of attendees is missing. So who died, if anyone, and why doesn’t anyone believe her?

Rachele

An instant New York Times bestseller, The Woman in Cabin 10 is a gripping psychological thriller set at sea from an essential mystery writer in the tradition of Agatha Christie.

In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

With surprising twists, spine-tingling turns, and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another taut and intense read in The Woman in Cabin 10—one that will leave even the most sure-footed reader restlessly uneasy long after the last page is turned.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Someone ends up dead at a B-List celebrity wedding on a private stormy Island off the coast of Ireland. Old slights, new jealousies and decade-old secrets rear their ugly heads at this beautiful ceremony, and by the time the lights go out, will you have guessed who did it? Pick this up for an atmospheric thriller with twists until the end!

Rachele

A wedding celebration turns dark and deadly in this deliciously wicked and atmospheric thriller reminiscent of Agatha Christie from the New York Times bestselling author of The Hunting Party.

The bride – The plus one – The best man – The wedding planner  – The bridesmaid – The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

Delicious Foods by James Hannaham

Equal parts mystery/thriller tale of family conflict and reconciliation, and modern parable about slavery, Delicious Foods is a deliciously weird and deeply moving novel.

Hadley

Held captive by her employers — and by her own demons — on a mysterious farm, a widow struggles to reunite with her young son in this uniquely American story of freedom, perseverance, and survival.

Darlene, once an exemplary wife and a loving mother to her young son, Eddie, finds herself devastated by the unforeseen death of her husband. Unable to cope with her grief, she turns to drugs, and quickly forms an addiction. One day she disappears without a trace.

Unbeknownst to eleven-year-old Eddie, now left behind in a panic-stricken search for her, Darlene has been lured away with false promises of a good job and a rosy life. A shady company named Delicious Foods shuttles her to a remote farm, where she is held captive, performing hard labor in the fields to pay off the supposed debt for her food, lodging, and the constant stream of drugs the farm provides to her and the other unfortunates imprisoned there.

In Delicious Foods, James Hannaham tells the gripping story of three unforgettable characters: a mother, her son, and the drug that threatens to destroy them. Through Darlene’s haunted struggle to reunite with Eddie, through the efforts of both to triumph over those who would enslave them, and through the irreverent and mischievous voice of the drug that narrates Darlene’s travails, Hannaham’s daring and shape-shifting prose infuses this harrowing experience with grace and humor.

The desperate circumstances that test the unshakeable bond between this mother and son unfold into myth, and Hannaham’s treatment of their ordeal spills over with compassion. Along the way we experience a tale at once contemporary and historical that wrestles with timeless questions of love and freedom, forgiveness and redemption, tenacity and the will to survive.

Take My Apart by Sara Sligar

What fun Take Me Apart is! It’s a thriller with intellectual depth and two incredibly complex women at its forefront. Sligar portrays mental illness in both of these characters convincingly and without falling into stereotypes or platitudes. Learning about Miranda’s life through her documents as we get Kate’s third person omniscient story is super creative and made sure the writing never felt stale (apart from the fact that Silgar is a damn good writer, of course). More depth than Big Little Lies but less disturbing than Sharp Objects (both books I enjoy), it’s a dark and winding tale that leaves you with more hope then you started with, which is a nice change of pace for me.

Hadley

A spellbinding novel of psychological suspense that follows a young archivist’s obsession with her subject’s mysterious death as it threatens to destroy her fragile grasp on sanity.

When the famed photographer Miranda Brand died mysteriously at the height of her career, it sent shock waves through Callinas, California. Decades later, old wounds are reopened when her son Theo hires the ex-journalist Kate Aitken to archive his mother’s work and personal effects.

As Kate sorts through the vast maze of material and contends with the vicious rumors and shocking details of Miranda’s private life, she pieces together a portrait of a vibrant artist buckling under the pressures of ambition, motherhood, and marriage. But Kate has secrets of her own, including a growing attraction to the enigmatic Theo, and when she stumbles across Miranda’s diary, her curiosity spirals into a dangerous obsession.

A seductive, twisting tale of psychological suspense, Take Me Apart draws readers into the lives of two darkly magnetic young women pinned down by secrets and lies. Sara Sligar’s electrifying debut is a chilling, thought-provoking take on art, illness, and power, from a spellbinding new voice in suspense.

One by One by Ruth Ware

A successful tech company goes on holiday at a beautiful but isolated ski chalet, only to find the employees are being picked off ‘one by one’ by someone lurking there. Ruth Ware is a master story-teller, and crafts a suspenseful tale of murder and deception in this modern take a la Agatha Christie.

Rachele

So when I said before that I didn’t really read the mystery genre that may have been a slight misrepresentation. I have a deep love of Agatha Christie and One By One is a book that certainly follows in the Christie tradition. Set in a Ski Chalet One by One is the story of a company retreat gone terribly wrong. What was supposed to be a collection of trust falls and leadership building turns into something much darker when an avalanche hits and people begin to disappear one by one. When you’re snowed in and you can’t trust anyone, what will you do to climb the corporate ladder to safety?

Drew

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Turn of the Key and In a Dark, Dark Wood returns with another suspenseful thriller set on a snow-covered mountain.

Getting snowed in at a luxurious, rustic ski chalet high in the French Alps doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world. Especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a full-service chef and housekeeper, a cozy fire to keep you warm, and others to keep you company. Unless that company happens to be eight coworkers…each with something to gain, something to lose, and something to hide.

When the cofounder of Snoop, a trendy London-based tech start-up, organizes a weeklong trip for the team in the French Alps, it starts out as a corporate retreat like any other: PowerPoint presentations and strategy sessions broken up by mandatory bonding on the slopes. But as soon as one shareholder upends the agenda by pushing a lucrative but contentious buyout offer, tensions simmer and loyalties are tested. The storm brewing inside the chalet is no match for the one outside, however, and a devastating avalanche leaves the group cut off from all access to the outside world. Even worse, one Snooper hadn’t made it back from the slopes when the avalanche hit.

As each hour passes without any sign of rescue, panic mounts, the chalet grows colder, and the group dwindles further…one by one.

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

The extraordinary new thriller from Stuart Turton, author of the bestselling murder mystery The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, winner of the Costa Best First Novel Award.

A murder on the high seas. A remarkable detective duo. A demon who may or may not exist.

It’s 1634, and Samuel Pipps, the world’s greatest detective, is being transported to Amsterdam to be executed for a crime he may, or may not, have committed. Traveling with him is his loyal bodyguard, Arent Hayes, who is determined to prove his friend innocent. Among the other guests is Sara Wessel, a noblewoman with a secret.

But no sooner is their ship out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage. A strange symbol appears on the sail. A dead leper stalks the decks. Livestock dies in the night.

And then the passengers hear a terrible voice, whispering to them in the darkness, promising three unholy miracles, followed by a slaughter. First an impossible pursuit. Second an impossible theft. And third an impossible murder.

Could a demon be responsible for their misfortunes?

With Pipps imprisoned, only Arent and Sara can solve a mystery that stretches back into their past and now threatens to sink the ship, killing everybody on board.

Shirley Jackson meets Sherlock Holmes in this chilling thriller of supernatural horror, occult suspicion, and paranormal mystery on the high seas.

Romance

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Josh is laid-back, and Hazel is a zany, no-filter disaster. After she throws up on Josh’s shoes, and sends a crazy email after surgery, she realizes that she is too much to take. But after a couple horrible double-blind dates, Josh and Hazel realize their attraction for each other. Read this for a cute, fluffy, warm hug of a book, with a romance you love to root for, with the best epilogue in any book (ever!)

Rachele

Most men can’t handle Hazel. But her best friend Josh isn’t most men. Don’t miss New York Times bestselling author Christina Lauren’s new novel about two people who are definitely not dating…no matter how often they end up in bed together.

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

A lighthearted and fun STEM related romance, I really enjoyed reading this Reylo inspired fake dating romance. Olive is a pretty endearing spunky heroine and Adam is a pretty warm and fuzzy brooding professor love interest. Both have some pretty neat friends who are always welcome additions when they pop up in the story.

Sarah

When a fake relationship between scientists meets the irresistible force of attraction, it throws one woman’s carefully calculated theories on love into chaos.

As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding…six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

This amazing adult romance follows chronically ill and slightly uptight computer nerd Chloe after a near-death experience, and the frustrating but gorgeous tattooed handyman and artist Red Morgan. The chemistry between these two was undeniable, and this story was a cute, comforting, and steamy read. A diverse romance with an honest portrayal of illness, body positivity, and an adversary-to-lover dynamic, this had me laughing, crying, and devising my own personal “Get a Life” list!

Rachele

Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion. The next items?

  • Enjoy a drunken night out.
  • Ride a motorcycle.
  • Go camping.
  • Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
  • Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
  • And… do something bad.

But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.

Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit.

But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

One Last Stop is an amazing book set in New York City that features a time travel element and a sapphic romance. This book follows a great cast of characters and is overall a really fun book. I had such a good time reading this book and I highly recommend it.

Hannah

From the New York Times bestselling author of Red, White & Royal Blue comes a new romantic comedy that will stop readers in their tracks…

For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures.

But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train.

Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day when she needed it most. August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it’s time to start believing in some things, after all.

Casey McQuiston’s One Last Stop is a magical, sexy, big-hearted romance where the impossible becomes possible as August does everything in her power to save the girl lost in time.

Siri, Who Am I? by Sam Tschida

Siri, Who Am I is a fun and quirky millennial mystery, full of pop culture references and thoroughly 2010s social media and technology. I loved how Mia’s voice came through clearly from the start, I felt I knew her better than she knew herself!

Sarah

A Millennial with amnesia uses her Instagram account to piece together her identity in this hilarious and whip-smart comedy about the ups and downs of influencer culture.

Mia might look like a Millennial but she was born yesterday. Emerging from a coma with short-term amnesia after an accident, Mia can’t remember her own name until the Siri assistant on her iPhone provides it. Based on her cool hairstyle (undercut with glamorous waves), dress (Prada), and signature lipstick (Chanel), she senses she’s wealthy, but the only way to know for sure is to retrace her steps once she leaves the hospital. Using Instagram and Uber, she arrives at the pink duplex she calls home in her posts but finds Max, a cute, off-duty postdoc supplementing his income with a house-sitting gig. He tells her the house belongs to JP, a billionaire with a chocolate empire. A few texts later, JP confirms her wildest dreams: they’re in love, Mia is living the good life, and he’ll be back that weekend.

But as Mia and Max work backward through her Instagram and across Los Angeles to learn more about her, they discover an ugly truth behind her perfect Instagram feed, and evidence that her head wound was no accident. Did Mia have it coming? And if so, is it too late for her to rewrite her story?

Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin

Inspired by You’ve Got Mail, Hana works part-time at her family’s halal restaurant—the only one in their close knit community. Hana really wants to work in radio. She’s torn between supporting her family and their business and living her dream. Things get complicated when a handsome stranger arrives to start a competing halal restaurant in their neighborhood. Oh this means war! I laughed out loud multiple times while reading! This light read was so enjoyable!

Becky

For fans of “You’ve Got Mail,” a young woman juggles pursuing her dream job in radio while helping her family compete with the new halal restaurant across the street, in this sparkling new rom-com by the author of Ayesha at Last

Sales are slow at Three Sisters Biryani Poutine, the only halal restaurant in the close-knit Golden Crescent neighborhood of Toronto. Hana waitresses there part time, but what she really wants is to tell stories on the radio. If she can just outshine her fellow intern at the city radio station, she may have a chance at landing a job. In the meantime, Hana pours her thoughts and dreams into a podcast, where she forms a lively relationship with one of her listeners. But soon she’ll need all the support she can get: a new competing restaurant, a more upscale halal place, is about to open in the Golden Crescent, threatening her mother’s restaurant.

When her mysterious aunt and her teenage cousin arrive from India for a surprise visit, they draw Hana into a long-buried family secret. A hate-motivated attack on their neighborhood complicates the situation further, as does Hana’s growing attraction for Aydin, the young owner of the rival restaurant–who might not be a complete stranger after all.

As life on the Golden Crescent unravels, Hana must learn to use her voice, draw on the strength of her community and decide what her future should be.

Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore

For a debut novel and my first historical romance, I enjoyed this very much. It certainly was a good diversion from this pandemic, and I was able to get caught up in the story of Annabelle and the Duke quite easily. While the book relied on several common tropes of romance books (historical or otherwise), the writing was compelling and entertaining.

Laura, Sarah’s Sister

A stunning debut for author Evie Dunmore and her Oxford suffragists in which a fiercely independent vicar’s daughter takes on a powerful duke in a fiery love story that threatens to upend the British social order.

England, 1879. Annabelle Archer, the brilliant but destitute daughter of a country vicar, has earned herself a place among the first cohort of female students at the renowned University of Oxford. In return for her scholarship, she must support the rising women’s suffrage movement. Her charge: recruit men of influence to champion their cause. Her target: Sebastian Devereux, the cold and calculating Duke of Montgomery who steers Britain’s politics at the Queen’s command. Her challenge: not to give in to the powerful attraction she can’t deny for the man who opposes everything she stands for.

Sebastian is appalled to find a suffragist squad has infiltrated his ducal home, but the real threat is his impossible feelings for green-eyed beauty Annabelle. He is looking for a wife of equal standing to secure the legacy he has worked so hard to rebuild, not an outspoken commoner who could never be his duchess. But he wouldn’t be the greatest strategist of the Kingdom if he couldn’t claim this alluring bluestocking without the promise of a ring…or could he?

Locked in a battle with rising passion and a will matching her own, Annabelle will learn just what it takes to topple a duke….

All Stirred Up by Brianne Moore

Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion. She returned to save her family’s dying legacy–but found the ghosts of her past alive and well.

Susan Napier’s family once lived on the success of the high-end restaurants founded by her late grandfather. But bad luck and worse management has brought the business to the edge of financial ruin. Now it’s up to Susan to save the last remaining restaurant: Elliot’s, the flagship in Edinburgh.

But what awaits Susan in the charming city of Auld Reekie is more than she bargained for. Chris Baker, her grandfather’s former protégé–and her ex-boyfriend–is also heading to the Scottish capital. After finding fame in New York as a chef and judge of a popular TV cooking competition, Chris is returning to his native Scotland to open his own restaurant. Although the storms have cleared after their intense and rocky breakup, Susan and Chris are re-drawn into each other’s orbit–and their simmering attraction inevitably boils over.

As Chris’s restaurant opens to great acclaim and Susan tries to haul Elliot’s back from the brink, the future brims with new promise. But darkness looms as they find themselves in the crosshairs of a gossip blogger eager for a juicy story–and willing to do anything to get it. Can Susan and Chris reclaim their lost love, or will the tangled past ruin their last hope for happiness?

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